Brainerd farmer buried in John Deere casket with tractor-led funeral procession
Charles “Bud” Sedlachek was born in Jasper, Minnesota, in 1938, died of congestive heart failure in Brainerd at 83 on Jan. 3. The Crow Wing County farmer loved John Deere equipment, so a John Deere tractor led the funeral procession and he was buried in a custom-ordered John Deere casket.
BRAINERD — Charles “Bud” Sedlachek had a lifelong passion for John Deere that he took to his grave.
The 83-year-old farmer from Brainerd died Jan. 3 of congestive heart failure. But he loved the farm equipment provider so much he was buried in a John Deere casket he had ordered.
“He was just a great, just a happy guy and inviting,” said Brian Sedlachek, the Jasper native’s son. “He always loved it when people stopped over in order to talk and have something to eat or whatever.”
The funeral service Wednesday, Jan. 12, at Halvorson-Taylor Funeral Home and the tractor-led funeral procession to Bethel Lutheran Church Cemetery near Brainerd certainly had people talking around town.
“Actually, the tractor being at the funeral home was Tim's idea, the funeral director,” Brian Sedlachek said of Tim Taylor. “He suggested having the tractor in there … for the wake. And then we kind of talked it over and decided we'd leave it there and lead the procession out of town with it.”
South Long Lake farm
The late Sedlachek passed away at home surrounded by family. In 1939, when the farmer was 9 months old, he relocated from Jasper with his parents, two sisters “and everything they owned in the back of a pickup truck” to the Crosby-Deerwood area, according to his obituary.
“In his younger years, he loved going to dances at the local bars, restaurants — you know, they'd have dances on Friday and Saturday nights. They don’t ever do that anymore,” Brian Sedlachek said of his late father. “He worked very hard and he played very hard.”
The late Sedlachek and his parents lived in the Crosby-Deerwood area until 1952 when they moved to the South Long Lake farm that was originally owned by Bud’s wife Gail’s grandparents; Bud and Gail were married in 1959 and they adopted Brian in 1972.
Sedlachek’s obituary states: “There were many memorable shed parties filled with polka music through the years! He farmed his entire life and could never imagine himself doing anything else. Nobody loved those John Deere tractors more than him!”
John Deere diehard
Brian Sedlachek said of the John Deere-themed funeral, “I loved that idea. And dad would have loved it if he could have been here. He was all about his tractors and farming … and couldn't imagine doing anything else with his life.”
The 49-year-old financial adviser from Brainerd said his late father was on hospice for the last couple of months and passed away peacefully at home, where the farmer wanted to be.
“He had everything set up for me to take over and continue farming with Freddy. Freddy was his partner on the farm here, and now he'll be my partner and we’ll just continue doing what my dad and Freddy did,” Brian Sedlachek said of Freddy Mogensen.
Mogensen was one of the pallbearers at the funeral. He worked for “Bud” Sedlachek since the early 1990s, and drove his former employer’s John Deere tractor in the funeral procession.
”Very good person — he’d help anybody out that he could. He would never leave anybody hanging,” said Mogensen, a 42-year-old Brainerd resident.
He was all about his tractors and farming … and couldn't imagine doing anything else with his life.
The John Deere tractor-led funeral procession made its way east on Highway 18 from the funeral home and south on County Highway 23 before the interment at Bethel Cemetery.
“Our neighbor had lined up for us — there's a tractor just about every road approach from (Highway) 18,” Mogensen said of the show of respect for the deceased.
“I’m glad that he’s not suffering anymore, you know?” Mogensen said of the late Sedlachek. “He lived a very good life — very good — well-loved by a lot of people.”
Sedlachek was born in 1938, and it was a period of hardship for farmers. From 1926 to 1932, 1,442 farms totaling 258,587 acres were lost to foreclosure, according to the Minnesota Historical Society, and from 1922 to 1932, 2,866 Minnesota farmers declared bankruptcy.
Green and yellow to the end
Wednesday’s funeral procession included 70 to 100 vehicles, according to Mogensen, who operated the John Deere 9100 four-wheel drive tractor that belonged to Sedlachek.
“That's the last one that he had bought,” Mogensen said of the John Deere tractor. “And it was one that he really didn’t need but always wanted. … That was a big tractor to have … and he never felt he could justify buying one with the amount of acreage he farmed.”
Sedlachek’s love of John Deere equipment extended to the custom-made casket he picked out and ordered before his death.
“He always had good relationships with the John Deere dealer that he dealt with and always had good luck with the equipment,” Mogensen recalled.
The casket had the iconic John Deere green on the top and the bottom, and yellow-colored walls with the farm equipment provider’s name and logo, which also adorned the casket lid.
“The head end — when it was opened up, on the inside — had a nice John Deere emblem in the fabric,” Mogensen said.
Brian Sedlachek added, “My dad just did some searching online on Google and found ‘John Deere casket’ and that was all his idea. … And it actually showed up shortly just a couple days after he passed away and so he didn't get to see the actual casket, but he saw pictures of it online.”
John Deere’s reputation among those in agriculture preceded the octogenarian farmer’s passing and will likely last after the Brainerd resident’s recent death.
“They're very high quality, as far as equipment goes. And if you're gonna run a good operation, you need good equipment. And that's what he was all about,” Brian Sedlachek said of his late father.